The Drug Rediscovery protocol facilitates the expanded use of existing anticancer drugs

D. L. van der Velden, L. R. Hoes, H. van der Wijngaart, J. M. van Berge Henegouwen, E. van Werkhoven, P. Roepman, R. L. Schilsky, W. W. J. de Leng, A. D. R. Huitema, B. Nuijen, P. M. Nederlof, C. M. L. van Herpen, D. J. A. de Groot, L. A. Devriese, A. Hoeben, M. J. A. de Jonge, M. Chalabi, E. F. Smit, A. J. de Langen, N. MehraM. Labots, E. Kapiteijn, S. Sleijfer, E. Cuppen, H. M. W. Verheul, H. Gelderblom, E. E. Voest*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorAcademicpeer-review


The large-scale genetic profiling of tumours can identify potentially actionable molecular variants for which approved anticancer drugs are available(1-3). However, when patients with such variants are treated with drugs outside of their approved label, successes and failures of targeted therapy are not systematically collected or shared. We therefore initiated the Drug Rediscovery protocol, an adaptive, precision-oncology trial that aims to identify signals of activity in cohorts of patients, with defined tumour types and molecular variants, who are being treated with anticancer drugs outside of their approved label. To be eligible for the trial, patients have to have exhausted or declined standard therapies, and have malignancies with potentially actionable variants for which no approved anticancer drugs are available. Here we show an overall rate of clinical benefit-defined as complete or partial response, or as stable disease beyond 16 weeks-of 34% in 215 treated patients, comprising 136 patients who received targeted therapies and 79 patients who received immunotherapy. The overall median duration of clinical benefit was 9 months (95% confidence interval of 8-11 months), including 26 patients who were experiencing ongoing clinical benefit at data cut-off. The potential of the Drug Rediscovery protocol is illustrated by the identification of a successful cohort of patients with microsatellite instable tumours who received nivolumab (clinical benefit rate of 63%), and a cohort of patients with colorectal cancer with relatively low mutational load who experienced only limited clinical benefit from immunotherapy. The Drug Rediscovery protocol facilitates the defined use of approved drugs beyond their labels in rare subgroups of cancer, identifies early signals of activity in these subgroups, accelerates the clinical translation of new insights into the use of anticancer drugs outside of their approved label, and creates a publicly available repository of knowledge for future decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-131
Number of pages16
Issue number7776
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2019



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